By Mollie Leal

Since Meta (previously Facebook) announced its investment shift in the metaverse back in October 2021, the term has become a hot topic in mainstream media. It’s left many of us asking ourselves, what even is the metaverse? And what does it mean for the future of the internet?

Lucky for you, we did all the research. Here is everything that you need to know about the metaverse:

So, what is the metaverse?

While Facebook’s decision to rebrand to meta has made the term more mainstream, the concept of the metaverse has been a part of the zeitgeist since the 1980s. Many point back to author Neal Stephenson as catapulting the term and overarching idea of the metaverse in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash.” In the novel, Stephenson introduced a virtual reality world like the internet that he called “metaverse.” His sci-fi rendition envisioned a space where users could interact with digital forms of themselves called “avatars.” Since then, a variety of tech giants and beyond have been fascinated with creating a digital world that can parallel reality.

Ultimately, the metaverse is meant to be a network of 3D worlds and simulations where participants can actively collaborate and interact. The Wall Street Journal describes the metaverse as “an extensive online world transcending individual tech platforms, where people exist in immersive, shared virtual spaces. Through avatars, people would be able to try on items available in stores or attend concerts with friends, just as they would offline.” More than experiencing entertainment and shopping, many also see an opportunity to increase personal relationships through socialization, wealth, and productivity skills all through the metaverse.

As reported by Yahoo!, various developments have already been made toward an online virtual world with the creation of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), 3D avatars, video concerts, and other means of communication. The story also noted that as the metaverse expands, the expectation is that it will offer a hyper-real alternate world for people to coexist in.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg estimates that creating his vision of a virtual world where digital avatars connect using VR headsets could take between 5-10 years to come to full fruition. However, multiple technological advancements are being made now leading to tomorrow’s metaverse.

Major players in the metaverse

USA Today reported on multiple major companies taking impressive steps forward in technologies and creative partnerships that look more and more like a conceivable, modern metaverse. A few examples as reported include:

  • Well-known software giant Microsoft is partnering with the U.S. Army to create an augmented reality Hololens 2 headset for soldiers to train, rehearse and fight in.
  • A major developer for user-generated games, Roblox, has successfully executed collaborations with companies like Vans and Gucci, creating immersive spaces where avatars can try on and buy clothing and accessories that the brands specifically created for virtual worlds.
  • The company that developed Fortnite, Epic Games, has also held concerts with major mainstream artists such as Ariana Grande and Travis Scott. USA Today also reported that Travis Scott hosted his first musical debut of a single on Fortnite – a major milestone for the music industry and virtual entertainment.

Trends to watch in 2022

With technologies continuing to make advancements towards the metaverse, what are some trends we should continue to watch in 2022? Here are just a few:

  • NFTs and cryptocurrencies. There is a clear, heightened interest in this new form of digital ownership. It’s the first time that users can certifiably own a digital item (or a part of the internet). There is a potential to use this as currency in the metaverse as well.
  • New ways to collaborate online. With employees and students spending more time online in hybrid workspaces as a result of the pandemic, video productivity platforms (like Facebook and Microsoft) are leading the charge in creating new ways for virtual collaboration.
  • Virtual merchandising. Major brands like Nike and other high-fashion brands are creating virtual goods for the metaverse. There is an interesting opportunity to track partnerships and creatively brainstorm how product-focused companies may be able to integrate themselves into the space.

Is virtual entertainment a space your company is interested in exploring? Our team is here to share knowledge and act as a resource for creative strategy. Reach out to learn more.